Poland has become a popular source of well-made, well-priced goods for US companies. But international shipping from Poland to the USA isn’t simple. It takes deep expertise to develop a profitable import strategy.
You’ll find many service partners available to help. Some produce better results than others. Which to choose? Here’s a look at the options.
Who’s in charge?
When a US company sources from Poland, about 70 percent of the time the purchasing terms put the buyer – not the supplier – in control of shipping. That’s a good arrangement. It means you make all the decisions that influence the speed and cost of transportation. Working with a capable logistics partner, you choose which shipping line and ports to use and how to handle landside transportation. If questions come up while your goods are in transit, you know where to go for information.
So, if you have a choice, make your purchase under the terms known as “Ex works (EXW).” Then you’ll be fully in charge.
Steamship line or third party?
As you plan for shipping containers from Poland, you might be tempted to book the door-to-door transportation with a steamship line. Don’t do it.
Why not? Of course an ocean carrier is great at providing ocean transportation. But it might drop the ball in other areas – for instance, leaving a container to sit for days at a terminal facility. And when it comes to sourcing dray capacity, a trucking broker or other specialist is more likely to find the transportation you need while keeping costs under control.
Expertise in landside transportation is especially important when you import from Poland to the US. That’s because none of Poland’s ports offers direct trans-Atlantic service. You’ll need to get your freight to a major Western European port for the crossing to the US.
You might do that by loading the containers in Poland onto a feeder vessel, which takes them to a port such as Antwerp or Hamburg for transloading onto a trans-Atlantic ship. Or you could move the containers by truck or rail to one of those major ports and load the containers there.
The best route for your cargo depends on several factors, including the location of your supplier, how soon you need the product, how much you’re willing to spend and the truck or rail rates you’re able to secure in Poland. A partner that understands the Polish transportation landscape can help you make the most profitable decision. That partner will also make sure the containers move from place to place and mode to mode without delay.
What else should you look for in a partner?
Flexibility: For transportation from the origin in Poland to the US destination, with careful attention to all the details, the most reliable partner is a freight forwarder or a non-vessel operating common carrier (NVOCC). Of the two, an NVOCC provides more flexibility. That’s because it can issue its own Bill of Lading (BOL) for door-to-door service, just like a steamship line.
An ordinary freight forwarder – one that isn’t also an NVOCC – can’t do that. When it books a shipment with a steamship line, the cargo travels on the ocean carrier’s BOL. The forwarder can monitor the shipment, but it relies on the line to execute the door-to-door move. As we’ve said, that can open your shipment to problems.
An office – not an agent – in Poland: When managing international shipping from Poland to the USA, some NVOCCs rely on freight agents to make the necessary arrangements in Poland. But that Polish agent could also be working with dozens of US forwarders, all competing for that agent’s time and attention. Your shipment could easily get lost in the crowd. You’re much better off with an NVOCC that owns offices in both Poland and the US. Then your freight will get top-priority attention every step of the way.
Customs brokerage services: You’ll need a customs broker to clear your shipment through export customs in Poland and import customs in the US. You could have your NVOCC work with a different broker on each side of the Atlantic. But, of course, the more parties involved in a transaction, the more chance that something will slip between the cracks, delaying the shipment and maybe increasing costs. An NVOCC with its own customs brokerages in both Poland and the US is best positioned to move your goods seamlessly. That partner will make sure you provide all the data needed for clearance. It can also help you choose the right classification number for your shipment from the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS), especially when the number used in Poland doesn’t have an exact match in the US. Such expertise could save you trouble and maybe even reduce duty charges.
Take the risk out of international shipping from Poland to the USA
When you make a sourcing decision, clearly you need to take the complexity and cost of transportation into account. Working with a strong logistics partner – one that fully understands the Poland-USA shipping lane – you can buy product in Poland and receive it relatively fast, without problems, and at a reasonable cost.
Want to learn more? Get in touch with I.C.E. Transport.